Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Facebook and Linked Accounts

18 September 2011

I have had a couple opportunities to “link accounts” in the past couple days. One was with Urban Spoon, I don’t remember the other one.

So in both cases, the Facebook cookie that is on my hard drive was accessed and read to determine who I was. Then FB was invoked and I was asked to confirm that the site could do a couple things: (1) access my basic information, which includes birthday and such; (2) post things to my Wall; and (3) send me email.

I declined both. Items 1 and 3 I had no problem with. It was the posting to the Wall I didn’t want. I want the things I post to be from or about me. I have no problem with some things being posted to my Wall; for example, I was tagged in several photos from my Yosemite backpacking trip by other hikers, and that tagging was posted to my Wall since it was about me.

But what I suspect would be posted by other sites is mainly advertising. I’m not opposed to getting advertising, but I don’t particularly want advertising posted to my FB Wall in my name.

So to Urban Spoon, or any other sites that want to practice cross-site authentication, I would suggest that you ask for the minimum information first, and then ask the user if they want to allow you to post to their Wall. In the case of Urban Spoon, I’m already giving them free content by linking my blog posts to their site, and not asking anything in return except to access other information on the site. I don’t want them to speak for me by posting to my Facebook Wall.

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A Slightly Spooky Facebook Feature: “Favorite Places”

24 June 2011

OK, so I am on Facebook too much, probably. I think it’s a pretty cool application. Sometimes I marvel at the ability of the app to correlate stuff, like the interests of people.

But a couple days ago, I noticed something that kind of freaked me out and fascinated me at the same time. On a page that displayed the status of one of my friends, and the comments to that status, I saw this on the top right part of the page:

Those are two restaurants. One, Lido, is a chinese american fusion restaurant in Oklahoma City. The other, Hunter Steakhouse, is in San Diego. I thought it an amusing thing that I had been to *both* restaurants. After a bit, I came back to another status page, and there were two more restaurants (in Omaha, and OKC), both of which I had been to. Later, another two restaurants (Alexandria, VA, and OKC); been to. Hmmm, I thought, I’m seeing a trend! I started clicking the “Next” link. There were probably 15 pairs of restaurants.

So the amazing thing here is that every one of the restaurants is in my blog.

It’s not surprising that Facebook knows about my blog; it’s in my profile as my website. The really amazing thing is that somehow, Facebook went to my blog, and found the restaurants, and identified them as restaurants, even though there are no tags that consistently define them as restaurants. A typical blog entry title is “Railhead Diner, Purcell, OK”. You would have to have some serious correlation software and a great database to see that my mention of Railhead Diner in Purcell is in fact a restaurant. The work “Diner” in the title would help, but what about an entry like “Lo Sole Mio, Omaha, NE”?

So this is, to me, a slightly spooky Facebook feature. I don’t find it an invasion of privacy or anything like that; after all, the blog is 100% in the public domain. It does make me think about the vast resources Facebook *has* to have to be performing correlation like this; it’s very intelligent.

There is a part of me that would like to work at Facebook or Google and work on some of these kinds of amazing software applications.

A Facebook “Support The Troops” Viral

13 January 2010

Today I saw a number of these (with some variation) posted as status updates on Facebook:

It’s time to show the world that more of us support our troops than don’t! If you support our troops, then please post this on your status and leave it there for one hour!! And if you don’t stand behind our troops, then please, “feel free to stand in front of them”!!

This sort of thing strikes me as wrong on several levels. First, who among us as Americans don’t “support our troops”? On several levels we all do, not least by paying our taxes. I think that most people also generally have good wishes for the military and the job the military does in defending the country. I know that not everyone feels that way, but it’s a safe bet that the vast majority do.

And by that last line, I refute the idea that we should just now show the world that “more do than don’t”.

But the thing that really bothers me is the “stand in front of them” line. This is un-American. Why can people not have legitimate disagreements (about “support” in this case) without being told they should be shot? And isn’t it a bit incongruous to think that the troops we are supposed to be “support”ing would shoot those that don’t “support” them?

It’s this kind of blind popular thought that bothers me. I got really tired during the debates in the last couple Presidential campaigns when the subject of the legitimacy of the war(s) was raised. If the people involved didn’t use some variation of the phrase “and of course I support the troops”, then some idiot who (far more often than not) thought the war was a good idea would start a shrill version of you don’t support the troops, as if this in some way diminished the validity of the other guys point.

One of my Facebook friends posted a version of this without the “stand in front of them”. Whether he edited himself or found it that way, good for him, or rather, good for Jim.

The Times Have Changed…

24 December 2009

Just got word – FIRST – from Facebook that services at St. John’s are canceled tonight due to the snowstorm. It even beat the TV stations.

Facebook and Polls

7 December 2009

I was tagged in a Facebook poll this evening:

Bill voted “No” in the Intelligence Poll. 2,396 people have already cast their vote.

Question: “Are atheists more intelligent than Christians?”
– Yes
– No

I wonder at the motive of the people who created this poll. Are they atheists who want to enrage Christians, or is it the other way around? Or is it some person who really wants to know the answer to this question?

In reality, a question like this can only be answered with certainty by using a multivariate survey. One part of the the study would be to take a group of people and give them an intelligence test, or find their highest level of education, or their GPA, or something else that is fairly concrete (and yes, I am aware of the discussions about what is really measured in an IQ test). Then you would have to have some way to ascertain whether (and how much?) those people ascribed to Christian beliefs. The study would have to correlate the two datasets.

All of this just shows that an opinion poll does not answer the question that was posed. I know highly intelligent people that are Christian, and others who are not. I know people of less intellect who are highly Christian, and others who are not. I could tell you what I believe based on my personal observations, but that’s all that you would get, one person’s personal observations.

There are other polls on Facebook that are more appropriate for the medium. One that recently was posted was “Is spanking child abuse?”. The possible answers were Yes, or No. This kind of a question is valid on a personal level, but the problem with the Facebook poll is that there were not enough answers. First, there should always be a “Don’t Know” and a “Don’t Care“. You would also have to give a range of possible answers, like “Yes, for breathing” down to “Yes, but only if he burned the house down“.

So my comment to Facebook pollsters is to try and determine what you really want to know, and whether you have an axe to grind, and if not, then try to make the poll realistic and more valid.